Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Arecibo Observatory

During our visit to Puerto Rico, we went to Arecibo Observatory - the world's largest radiotelescope. It is located in a middle of a rainforest approximately 9 miles (14 km) south of the town of Arecibo, Puerto Rico.

The dish is the largest curved focusing dish on Earth (305m or 1000ft in diameter). The dish was constructed in the 1960s inside of the natural depression left by a sinkhole. The size of the structure is just mind-boggling.

This type of a dish is called a spherical reflector. Since the telescope's dish is fixed in place, the receiver has to be repositioned at its focal point in order to receive signals reflected from different directions. The 1,000-ton receiver (above) is suspended 150 m (450 ft) in the air above the dish by 18 cables running from three gigantic concrete towers.

The main dish is made of 38,778 perforated aluminum panels. It's overall collecting area is about 73 000 m² (790 000 ft² or ~18 acres). The telescope's focal length is 132.5 m (434.7ft).

The platform housing the receiver (and other equipment) can be accessed by a long suspended walkway or by a lift. We saw several technicians servicing the receiver. They must be enjoying a beautiful scenery from up there!

More on Arecibo Observatory

Posted by Picasa

Labels: , , , ,


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home